Harvesting rain an option for Barbados

Barbados Nation: A call is being made for a policy on rain harvesting and an increase in water rates to finance the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).

It is coming from chartered engineer Andrew Hutchinson, who spoke at a seminar – Can Barbados Manage A Day Zero – When Taps Run Dry? – hosted by the Barbados Town Planners Society at Courtyard by Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church, on Thursday.

Assuming there was no change by citizens in their patterns of water usage, Hutchinson said there would have to be a “significant increase” in water rates to constrain demand.

He argued for a policy of water harvesting and noted Bermuda relied almost entirely on rainwater harvesting to meet national demands.

Hutchinson, senior principal of engineering firm Stantec, cited several projects in which his company had successfully provided rain harvesting solutions.

He suggested that storage of water underground was another solution while dams could be constructed to direct the flow of rainfall away from the sea and into the ground.

Rather than the BWA capturing ten per cent of annual rainfall, “can we capture the other 90 per cent?” Hutchinson asked.

He noted that 60 per cent of water used in homes went to flushing toilets and doing laundry and suggested relatively cheap equipment could be installed to reduce wastage of water in toilets.

The urgency of a plan to tackle water scarcity was also underscored by director of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies Professor Adrian Cashman, and technical adviser to the BWA, Dr John Mwansa.

The audience of public and private sector representatives was told that about 90 per cent of annual rainfall ended up in the sea, which contributed, along with domestic losses of about 40 per cent, to Barbados being, “a very, very water scarce country”.

Cashman painted a picture of a growing gap between current supply and availability of water which, if left unchecked, could see taps starting to run dry.

Mwansa wanted to see increased funding for the BWA, noting it lacked a planning unit, and speedier implementation of policy following several years of talk.

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